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Speakers, commentators, timekeepers, send me your 7k papers!

I'm all for sending the longer version of the paper to the commenter. Let's remember that the point of conferences is not to present and comment on papers of exactly three thousand words in length. That limit is arbitrarily set in order to make reviewing and submitting easier (hence why some conferences just ask for abstracts). Comments are supposed to be constructive and ultimately contribute to the final paper that gets published, which is unlikely to be 3k words. As Future Conference Presenter notes, when we turn in 3k-word conference submissions, we sometimes leave out non-essential sections dealing with objections and replies that are included in the longer paper. If a commenter raises an objection that you've already dealt with in the longer paper, then that's a waste of both your time and the commenter's time. Sending the longer paper avoids this.
I personally have never begrudged a speaker sending me a longer version of the paper; often, I explicitly ask for it. And I find it hard to imagine that a person committed to writing out thoughtful comments on a conference paper would be upset at the prospect of better understanding the paper they're commenting on. So you have to read a few thousand more words? Big deal! We're academics. I read 7k words over breakfast.


It seems okay to offer to send the commentator the long version. But one important thing to keep in mind here is that you still just have 20 minutes (or whatever) to present the paper.

So all the extra stuff in the longer version of the paper - you won't really be able to expose the audience to it in a meaningful way. And maybe you'll avoid the commenter raising an unnecessary objection, but there's still good odds someone in the audience raises it.

Recent Commentator

I think you probably shouldn't send the longer version. Certainly the commentator isn't obligated to read the 7k version of the paper, but you might still feel frustrated if they don't read it.

Probably the best thing to do is, in the 3k word version, gesture at the objection and say that you have a response to it. Then the commentator is well within their rights to ask about your response to the objection, and you have the opportunity in your response to address that question from the commentator. (Or ignore it, since it's totally appropriate to say nothing in response to some of the commentator's comments!)

moral police

It is the moral police here, again: the 3000 word paper has been veted. In contrast, the 7000 word version has not - and authors, I hate to say, are not always the best judge of their own work. So the longer paper may in fact be weaker. So, I would send only the 3000 word version. A nice, wonderful exchange can happen if the commentator happens to raise concerns that the longer version addresses.

Bill Vanderburgh

Check the conference guidelines, they probably say something about this (and the related question of changes to the accepted version of the paper, usually forbidden). I would lean towards sending only the conference version. Comments based on the longer paper might seem odd to the audience, who only heard 43% of the longer paper. If the commentator raises objections you answer in the longer paper, you'll look good for having a good reply ready to go. The point of this isn't to "win" by having already answered all objections, but to provoke a conversation.

Juan S Pineros Glasscock

I have done this both as a commentator (when someone sent me a longer paper) and as a speaker (when I sent the longer paper) numerous times. I definitely think this should be encouraged, since both audience and speaker will get more from it; but it is ultimately up to the commentator to decide. Sometimes someone doesn't have time to read the longer piece. But if the commentator is OK with it, I see no issue. So, the first step is to check with the commentator.

Two addenda:

-Even in the cases where someone has agreed to read a longer piece, one should flag the most relevant parts to make their job easier. What I do, is I go through the paper and write things like 'I won't cover this at at all', or 'I may cut this if I'm running low on time' etc.

-One of the difficult things about this practice is that you want the audience to be able to make sense of the comments. I have been at talks where it's very hard to see what the commentator is responding to, only to find out in the Q&A that the problem is that the speaker left it out of their talk. So, if you send the longer piece, the commentator may choose to focus on something you wouldn't otherwise want to cover. Supposing they send you their comments in advance (as they should given APA rules), it is your job to recast the presentation so that the audience can make sense of the comments. If you haven't read the comments in advance, I'd use my response to the comments to get the audience up to speed (but this is always a second-best option).


FWIW, I share moral police instincts about this. But I don't think it is a problem to send an email to the commentator with the longer version and in the body of the email state, in bullet format, or something equally concise, what they will miss if they only read the 3000 word version. EG, tell then that in the longer paper, which they can feel free to read or not, you deal with objections A, B, and C, and also give some additional support for premise 2 and 4, etc.

Tyler Hildebrand

I vote for sending the shorter version only.

Here's an annoying thing that can happen. Your commentator reads the long version. They prepare comments based on that version, but some of them concern material not included in your presentation! Then they have to make a choice: Do they take a bunch of time to explain the relevant parts of your paper so that their comments make sense? Do they just read their comments as is, leaving the audience in the dark? Do they just skip the relevant portion of their comments? None of these options are good.

Come to think of it, comments are a waste of time

This discussion is reminding me of why I find the commentary format so lame. Comments are most helpful when they are responding to an up-to-date, complete version of your paper. If, in order to do comments properly, you are forbidden from sharing this version of your paper, or if doing so engenders complaints from the commentator, then there might as well be no comments at all. Not to mention the fact that most of the comments I've received were sent to me late (or not at all), and were written by someone without relevant expertise picked at random by the conference organizer. Nor is it particularly engaging as an audience member to sit through a set of half-baked comments hastily written out on the plane that morning, followed by a lengthy reply from the author. Better to use that time for general Q&A, or perhaps to make room for another speaker on the program (or heck, even a longer coffee break).


I am on the "only send the 3000 word" side for some reasons already mentioned and one that seems unspoken. On the already mentioned, I mostly worry about the audience not getting the details of the longer paper, which the commentator is then commenting on. Yes, the author has already dealt with the first round of obvious objections, but the audience won't know that, and 20 minutes isn't likely to be enough time to get through them in the presentation.

Unsaid thus far is that "the commentator can just choose not to read it" is probably too quick. As someone who commented a lot as a graduate student, so I could get funding to go to APAs and maybe wasn't in a place to be submitting yet, I would certainly not have felt like I could just "not read the longer version". Graduate students new to APAs, or feeling like they have to impress, aren't going to feel like they can say no. They also are likely to spend wayyyy too much time prepping these comments to begin with, and probably should be spending their time on other things. So, while for seasoned folks, it'll be easy to just "not read the longer version", I don't think that's true of early stage graduate students, not to mention others, especially women, who tend to be the ones doing extra labor. Sure, they could "choose not to do it", but inevitably they do it because someone has to.

All that said, I have received updated 3000k work papers, and that seems fair. You submit for the APA ages before the conference. So, if arguments have changed in the paper, I think an updated version, that's still roughly 3000k words is totally fine. (Sure, the updates are unvetted, but that part doesn't bother me as much.)

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